Fictional Fridays

I am so excited for my first Fictional Fridays post!! After getting a little burnt with 5 Fandom Friday, I’ll be hopping over to join Bookworms In Dresses fabulous Friday link-up! Fictional Fridays is dedicated to gushing about literary related goodness. Characters! Stories! Book covers! Anything you want – post about it!! I love how it’s open ended, and it’s just the link up I’ve been looking for to pull me out of my Friday funk lately.

I was originally thinking about book characters I love as a topic to discuss here today, but then I realized there was something I wanted to talk about about more: Characters I Love to HATE.

I actually love it when I get truly angry at a character in a book. Why? The above quote sums it up nicely. If I have a mad case of rage towards a character, I definitely care and am invested in the writing enough to be so filled with turmoil. I love that. I love getting the feels for fictional characters, and I am always impressed when an author can churn up some true anger in me. So without further ado, here are my Top Two Characters I Love To Hate.

1. Dolores Umbridge

She is at the very tippy top of my list in terms of nerd rage while reading. I have never been SO ANGRY when reading. There were so many times I sat there, jaw clenched, white-knuckling my copy of Order of the Phoenix whilst reading about her latest horrifying act. I was actually sad when you find out the centaurs did not, in fact, rip her to pieces. I wanted her torn to smithereens, entrails hanging from the Forbidden Forest as a warning to others to not be such a complete douche.

2. Cersei Lannister

I absolutely love what a cold-hearted bitch Cersei is in the books. In fact, I’m not overly enamored with her portrayal on the show – she comes off rather victim-like in some situations and that is just NOT Cersei. She knows what she’s doing. She knows what she wants. And she will do ANYTHING to get it. I love (to hate) that about her. Her cold, calculating manner, her complete disregard for anyone but herself. In the earlier books I was in awe of just how selfish she was. Which made it all the more satisfying as things began to fall apart for her.

Those two have definitely given me the most rage I can think of while reading. There are certainly others I can mention:

Rita Skeeter from Harry Potter (for being such a skeevy jerk), Sansa from Game of Thrones (for her overwhelming naivety), Sandman from the Neil Gaiman comics (while he is the main protagonist, there are many occasions he is just a complete dick), Lucifer from Sandman and his own spinoff series (he IS the devil, I guess it’s not too surprising he would do some angering things). I’m sure I could name more, but that’s a good start.

Are there any characters you just love to hate?

Don’t forget to link up over at Bookworms in Dresses if you join in on Fictional Fridays!

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Reeses Spreads: Tasty, But It’s No Nutella

Recently I received a jar of Reeses Spreads courtesy of Influenster to devour sample. I. Was. PUMPED. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but they had me and ‘chocolate and peanut butter spread’.

reesesspreadsA

I set up a little spread for myself, the hubs, my daughter (who was beyond thrilled to get to have a treat in the middle of the afternoon), and we invited our neighbor over too, just to gather another opinion. The question was – what does this taste beston??

reesesspreadsB

The options were: Apple slices, graham crackers, and wheat toast. Both my little and myself liked Reeses Spreads on apples the best. I am a HUGE fan of apples and peanut butter, and this is like a dessert version of that. Both my hubs and our neighbor liked it best on the toast.

reesesspreadsC

How’s the flavor? I think this is where I was surprised the most. First off, it doesn’t taste like a Reeses Peanut Butter cup. In fact, when eaten WITH something, I feel like you hardly even taste the chocolate. It’s like a super sweet peanut butter. Good, but definitely not a great chocolate/pb combo in my opinion. We each tried a little spoonful just by itself, and I find that on it’s own it definitely tastes much more like a Reeses.

Overall, this is good, but I would not purchase this over Nutella any day. It has a good taste, but it’s really just like an overly sweet peanut butter. As someone who purchases natural peanut butter (as in, only peanuts – no added sugar) it’s almost sickeningly sweet, and it doesn’t have enough of a chocolate flavor to balance that out. I am quite intrigued how it’ll be to bake with though – I plan on making up some peanut butter cookies using this in place of half the peanut butter – we’ll see how they turn out!

Current Art Stuff (A Sort Of WIP Wednesday)

I debated not even having a WIP Wednesday, but then I decided even though I don’t have a ton of actual art to share, there are a few things I’d like to talk about! So really, a few of these things are even in pre-WIP stage, where I’m still just working on concepts for projects.

One of my biggest goals this year is to find a direction for my art. I feel like while I love creating, I don’t really have a sense of DOING anything with my art. I like to draw portraits. I like to make paintings. But I feel like I’ve just been bouncing around from individual project to individual project with no real goals for my art. And I’d like to change that! I will still absolutely be making portraits, paintings, and probably lots in between. But I want to give myself a bit more focus for the year, with an actual intention for my art as opposed to my “let’s just draw something” mentality I’ve been rolling with up until now.

FOCUS #1:

Sketch more!! Seriously, I am awful at sketching. I bought a new sketchbook in mid-2014, and there are maybe ten pages filled in. Three of which are from this year. Oy. I really need to work on just sitting down to sketch, without a massive project in mind.

margot meanie mary doodles
Two sketches from this year – fellow blogger Margot Meanie, and a quick cartoon-ish sketch of Mary Doodles while catching up on her YouTube vids!

FOCUS #2:

Drawing without a reference! This heavily ties in to my above focus of sketching more. Every time I sit down to sketch, self doubt always kicks in and screams I can’t possibly draw anything without a reference photo! I NEED to work on getting over that hump. Especially as I know, YES, I CAN draw without a direct reference. I actually have a super top secret idea I’m working on right now for a personal comic, and I can’t wait to get it going. You guys here will definitely be privy to the process – it’s really only super top secret from my family. And since they don’t read my blog, I can share it all here, muahahahaha! Anywho, you’ll be hearing lots more about it.

Other projects? I need to finish my Neil Gaiman portrait, as well as the painting for my hubs and I’ve got some plans to do a Victorian steampunk piece, just for funsies. I think I’d like it to eventually be a painting, but I’ll probably start out with a graphite drawing to get it all down first.

gaiman portrait
Hoping to get this finished tomorrow!

aurelia
I’ve been ignoring this piece, as the entire bottom half of her body needs to be redone when I paint….not looking forward to that. But I need to suck it up, and get some more work done on it!

That’s what I’ve got on my art plate for now – what are you working on lately?

I’m Just Going To Veto The Last Two Weeks. Oh, and Zines.

Seriously, I’m pretending the new year just started this past weekend. Why? I’ve been sick nearly straight through since the weekend after Christmas. In all honesty, I was due – I very rarely get sick, I’ve been under a lot of mental stress, and once the holidays ended my body just went, “THAT’S IT. WE’RE SHUTTING DOWN.”, and BAM! Bring on the plague.

However, I am finally feeling pretty much 100% again and can’t wait to dive into my goals for January (which I am epically behind on)! Despite being sick, it was actually really nice to spend nights just vegging out with Netflix on the couch, and forcing myself to just RELAX. Yeah, the sickness part sucked, but I am so happy with myself for using all my free time to chill and recover, and not try and be working on projects and goals through the whole thing. It was a much needed break.

Today I want to talk about zines! As I mentioned in my yearly goals post, I really want to start reading zines. Why? Simply put, I feel they are right up my alley. I love memoirs, and personal blogs, and zines just seems like a fabulous mini-version of that. Plus, with every purchase I am supporting an indie business/artist/writer, which is yet another thing I love to do. So all around, it just seems like something I’m going to love.

I have to thank the wonderful Sonya Cheney for introducing me to the term ‘zine’ last year. As a zine writer herself, she had a few posts about them when I first started following her and I was instantly intrigued. Recently, she put together this post highlighting her favorite zine distributors. It’s an amazing jumping off point. There are pages and pages of zines to browse through! Here are my top picks for my first order:

Via Pioneers Press:

Anything by Julia Eff. I was drawn in by the titles, and after reading the descriptions, they sound amazing.

Better Days: Stuff That Helps With All This Anxiety by Sarah Rose. Given my anxiety struggles as of late, this sounds perfect.

Via Stranger Danger:

Always and Forever: A Zine About Friendship

Dig Deep, any of them.

 

I still need to decide what to order, but you can be sure they’ll be a post on my January picks! Do you read zines? What are some of your faves that I should check out?

DIY T-Shirt Mod: Mens Shirt to Fitted Tee

I love geeky t-shirts. Since my standard form of dress is usually jeans and a t-shirt, about 90% of my wardrobe is tees that relate to my fandoms. However, I often run into the problem that the shirts I want only come in mens sizes. I like a good mens tee sometimes – they are super comfy and go great with sweatpants for a day around the house. But for a day wear I have to actually interact with other human beings, I like my shirts to be at least somewhat fitted! I’m not hugely into fashion, but I certainly appreciate a flattering cut. So I came up with a mod!

Full disclosure: I am NOT a seamstress, and probably the worst DIYer ever. More often than not my philosophy for DIYing is ‘wing it’, and that is no different in this case. However, I have used this method many times and it has always worked out for me! Even after multiple, multiple washings. 😉

What you’ll need:

A t-shirt to mod. If it’s your first time, I recommend getting a practice shirt. When I first did this, I used $.99 shirts from the thrift shop to practice on.
A tee shirt that fits you. Everyone has that one tee that fits just perfectly, right? Grab that one.
A basic sewing machine. I use only a straight stitch for the mod, and then a basic zig-zag stitch for ‘finishing’.
Thread that matches your tee
Pins
Fabric scissors. Or very sharp scissors if you don’t have a pair dedicated to fabric.

Step 1: Pinning

My hubs surprised me with this fantastic Lying Cat tee (from Saga, which if you haven’t read, GO DO THAT) and I knew I needed it modded immediately so I could wear it all the time. Because Lying Cat is the best. Enough fangirling though, tutorial time!

Turn the shirt you are modifying inside out and lay it on a flat surface.

inside out

Then, take the shirt you picked that has your favorite fit, and turn it inside out. Place it on top of the shirt you’re modding so that the neck holes line up. Don’t worry if the shoulders are different – they probably will be. And just in case you wanted to know, the fitted shirt I picked is actually one I snagged at an Ingrid Michaelson concert in 2012. It is still the best fitting, comfiest tee I own.

layer shirt

Once your fitted tee is placed on top of your modding tee, start pinning the edges of the modding tee. See where we’re going with this? You are basically mimicking the fit of your already perfectly fitting tee. Don’t feel you have to pin directly up against the tee like I did. Wiggle room is always a good thing as you can always make things tighter if need be.

pin

Pin from arm holes all the way to the bottom, flaring out a bit if you wish – I did, as the Lying Cat tee is quite long, and I wanted to make sure it didn’t end up too tight over my hips.

all pinned

Step 2: Sewing

Once pinned, it’s time to bust out the sewing machine. I own an extremely basic Singer Tradition machine. As you can see, it has your basic stitches, and that’s it. I think I got it for about $98 at Joannes. Also, I couldn’t stand it being just plain white so I tattooed it with a Sharpie, and added fun stickers! 😀 The settings you see here are what I use for my straight stitch, nearly all of the time.

sewing machine

Once your proper thread is loaded in, it’s time to start sewing! Using a basic straight stitch, sew until you reach the armpit seam, and stop.

begin sewing

straight stitch

Take the shirt off the machine, and turn it so you are now sewing in from the armhole. Still using the same straight stitch, sew in along the arm pins until you meet your previous stitch at the armpit seam. I think this is actually the trickiest part, and it’s what I practiced most. If your stitches don’t line up in the armpit seam area, you can end up with little gaps once it’s turned right side out – don’t worry if that happens; it’s entirely fixable with a quick hand stitch.

sewing arm

connected arm stitch

Repeat all of this for the other side.

Step 3: Try It On!

Now that you have both sides sewn, before doing anything else to the shirt, turn it right side out and try it on. You want to make sure you have the right fit before you start cutting.

Step 4: Cutting and Finishing

Assuming it fits the way you like it, turn the shirt inside out again, and grab your fabric scissors.

scissors

Begin cutting the excess fabric from the bottom, leaving about 1/2″ of fabric on the sides.

cut

edging

Once cut, it will start to curl, but that fine. The next step is finishing those curled edges! Now, if you have a serger, bust it out and give the edges a proper finish. I, however, do not have one (or have any idea how to use one). I just use a basic zig-zag stitch to finish my edges.

zigzag stitch

This will keep the edges from fraying, and in general have the whole thing last longer. Once all your edges are finished, that’s it, your done! After you do it a few times, the whole project can be done in about 30 minutes – not too shabby! But I do definitely recommend practicing on a shirt (or three) that you don’t care about first. Especially the zig-zag stitch, which actually took me quite a bit of finagling to finally work properly.

And now, the fun before and after pics!

beforeandafterA

beforeandafterB

As you can see in the befores it’s pretty boxy, with lots of baggy sleeve in the arm areas; nice and fitted in the afters! I’m thinking I may actually hem the bottom of this up now, because I feel like it is really long compared to my other shirts, and it looks funny with my jeans!

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! It’s definitely not as exact as using legit measurements and such, but I find it SO much easier, and it hasn’t failed me yet! Let me know if you try it out!

 

 

 

Life In Photos #33

It’s been awhile since a Life In Photos update, and truthfully, it was a much needed break. I love photography dearly, but trying to take pictures enough for a post every week was becoming tedious. Lately, I’ve just been snapping when the mood strikes, or if there is something specific I want to try and capture.

Since it’s been quite a bit since my last post, I’ve actually got lots of photos to kick off my first Life In Photos of 2015! Hope you enjoy some snaps from my daily life (daily life = daughter, kitties, and outdoor adventures).

chillin

She picked TV time in the morning one day, and cozied right up.

stillsnugglebuds

snugglesbuds

These two have been buds since she was an infant. He puts up with all her snuggle antics.

sleepy

We spent New Years with our best friends, and I just can’t resist snapping pics of her new little man when I’m there!

squirrel

A chubby squirrel in a tree during a recent snowstorm. This picture isn’t as crisp as I wanted; I really need to work on steadier hands. I took this from my living room window with my zoom lens haha!

catching snow

Her favorite part of snowstorms? Catching snowflakes on her tongue, and eating the fresh snow.

crows

A cute crow couple! Or maybe BFFs? Either way, they stayed together the entire time they were in the yard, moving from tree to tree.

flying crow

I adore this shot, the main reason being I took it using manual settings! I managed to get the bird in silhouette, with that wing detail peeking through, and I love the light gradient from the clouds.

selfie

And lastly, a selfie! I almost never snap selfies unless they are for a specific tag on IG, but we were outside in the snow, the day was just so lovely, and I felt so incredibly peaceful as the snow was falling down. I wanted to capture it! So I just held up the camera to snap a shot. And funnily enough, I actually love this photo of myself. It was an entirely unplanned picture, yet it captured the moment beautifully for me.

Links to the Past

Hyrule crest

  • I know Christmas is over and whatnot, but if you missed it you absolutely must looks at EPBOT’s Harry Potter themed tree. HOLY. FRICK. Amazing. I want one to leave up year round.
  • IGGPPC’s blog, +5 Charisma, published this article all about codebreaker Joan Clarke. Very cool to learn more about such an amazing woman, who played such a huge role in WWII codebreaking.
  • Speaking of awesome women in wars, this 93 year old British secret agent is finally accepting recognition for her heroic acts during WWII. And by heroic acts, I mean such things as parachuting into Normandy in order to obtain information to use on D-Day. Seriously amazing stuff.
  • 9 things I wish people understood about anxiety is an amazing article. While directed towards people who don’t suffer from it themselves, it is a wonderful, if a bit heartbreaking, read. As something that is so close to my heart lately, I highly recommend reading through it if you struggle with anxiety yourself, or if you know someone who does.
  • Felicia Day wrote a book! Which you can learn a bit about and preorder. While she seems to fall into the ‘love her or hate her’ category, I have always admired Ms. Day. She never seems to be afraid to be herself, and that is something I really respect.